Breach at Denver hospital increased risk of HIV, hepatitis infections

April 5 (UPI) — A sterilization breach at a Denver hospital may have put some patients at risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis, health officials said.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said instruments used for certain surgeries at Porter Adventist Hospital in the last two years may not have been properly sterilized.

“The process for cleaning surgical instruments following orthopedic and spine surgeries was found to be inadequate, which may have compromised the sterilization of the instruments,” Dr. Larry Wolk, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s executive director, said in a statement.

The breach increased the risk that some patients may have been exposed to HIV or hepatitis B or C.

Wolk said the risk of a patient contracting HIV or a hepatitis virus was “very low.” So far, there have been no reports of infected patients due to the breach, which occurred between July 21, 2016 and Feb. 20 of this year.

After the state health department was notified of the breach in February, it conducted an on-site survey of infection control practices at the hospital. Also, a disease control investigation is ongoing.

Wolk said the department has confirmed that present infection-control practices at Porter Adventist Hospital is up to standard.

“Porter Adventist Hospital stopped using and reprocessed all surgical equipment in question Feb. 20,” Wolk said. “While there is always a risk of infection during surgery, it appears there is no increased risk to current patients having surgery at Porter Adventist Hospital because of the infection control breach.”

Wednesday, the hospital began notifying patients who may have been put at risk. A statement on the hospital website said the breach involved “a gap in the pre-cleaning process of surgical instruments.”

Officials said patients have been given information about the infection and have the option to be tested for bloodborne pathogens.

“We understand that this information may cause concern, and are working closely with our patient care team, doctors and staff to ensure any patients involved have the information and resources they need,” the hospital said.